A Travel Price Comparison for Oregon Portland vs. Columbia River Gorge for Food, Hiking, Families, and Couples

Should you visit Portland or Columbia River Gorge?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Trying to figure out where to travel next? This travel comparison between Portland and Columbia River Gorge can help. It includes a travel cost comparison in addition to other factors. For many travelers, the cost of a destination is a primary consideration when choosing where to go.

Portland

Portland is a eclectic, tree-lined, and nature-filled city. It's a very nice small town not to be missed. It's a gorgeous place to visit. It's also known for nightlife, live music, and hiking.

Columbia River Gorge

Columbia River Gorge is a scenic, natural, and beautiful region. This is also a very beautiful destination which attracts plenty of visitors. Other reasons to visit include food, hiking, and shopping.

Portland and Columbia River Gorge: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Active nightlife
  • Good music scene
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Good for students
  • Very walkable
Things to Consider
  • Less museums and historical sights
  • Less popular for food
Pros
  • Popular for food and cuisine
  • Active nightlife
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Impressive beauty
Things to Consider
  • Less museums and historical sights
  • Less walkable


Is there more to do in Portland or Columbia River Gorge?

Tourists will generally find more to do in Portland. Although Portland and Columbia River Gorge are both popular with visitors, Portland has more sights, activities, and attractions for travelers. Portland is more popular for its music and small town charm, while Columbia River Gorge is known for its food and impressive beauty. Portland is popular for its independent and vintage shops, thriving art scene, lush parks and gardens, progressive and quirky personality, and easy access to amazing natural beauty. It is also home to Washington Park. Columbia River Gorge is popular for its hiking, biking, and high number of waterfalls.

How is Portland different from Columbia River Gorge?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Columbia River Gorge and Portland. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Portland or Columbia River Gorge?

Portland
Columbia River Gorge

Spend time exploring the decent sights and museums in either Portland or Columbia River Gorge.

While most people don't head to Portland specifically for the museums and attractions, it does offer a few options. Visitors usually come for the city's outdoor recreation and eclectic personality more than the landmarks and museums. There are a few places to visit on a rainy day though including Pittock Mansion, the Portland Art Museum, and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.

Columbia River Gorge offers a handful of options for museums and historical sights. There are a couple of local museums in the area, but most visitors spend their time exploring the region's natural beauty.


Is the Food Better in Portland or Columbia River Gorge? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Portland
Columbia River Gorge

Columbia River Gorge is a very popular place for its restaurants. However, Portland is lacking in good options for its restaurant scene.

The food selection at local restaurants is excellent in Columbia River Gorge. You'll find many great restaurants in the area that serve local dishes that make use of the region's agricultural scene.

You'll find the standard options when it comes to food in Portland. The town is more famous for it's craft beer than it's food, but there are still a number of local restaurants that offer unique Oregon dishes. You'll find no shortage of vegetarian and vegan options on most menus. There is also a big farm-to-table scene with many farmers markets around town as well.

Is Portland or Columbia River Gorge Better for Nightlife?

Portland
Columbia River Gorge

The good nightlife scene is relatively similar in Portland and Columbia River Gorge.

With a handful of venues, visitors can find a fairly lively vibe in Portland. Famously, this town's nightlife is all about the craft beer and local breweries. Make sure you check out Bailey's Taproom, The Big Legrowlski, and The Commons Brewery.

Columbia River Gorge has an active nightlife scene for those who seek it out. Local breweries, wineries, and bars offer a relaxing setting with a local vibe.

Is Portland or Columbia River Gorge Better for Music?

Portland
Columbia River Gorge

Portland is a nice place to visit for live music. However, Columbia River Gorge is not a live music destination.

The music scene helps keep Portland active and fun. The town has a thriving live music and international folk dancing scene.

Columbia River Gorge is not a live music destination.


Is Portland or Columbia River Gorge Better for Hiking?

Portland
Columbia River Gorge

Both Portland and Columbia River Gorge are destinations which offer high quality hiking.

Many visitors explore the nearby hiking trails while visiting Portland. Just outside of town you'll find amazing hikes and stunning natural beauty. In town there are many urban hikes through parks and gardens, but in just a short drive you also have access to Mount Hood and many of the region's most beautiful hikes around the Columbia River Gorge.

You'll find a nice variety of hiking trails around Columbia River Gorge. There are world-class hikes that take you to iconic waterfalls, breathtaking viewpoints, and along scenic waterways.

Is the Shopping Better in Portland or Columbia River Gorge?

Portland
Columbia River Gorge

Shoppers can find a variety of good stores in both Portland and Columbia River Gorge.

Plenty of visitors enjoy shopping while in Portland. To fully experience shopping in town, head to the local vendors and thrift shops. There are many vintage clothing shops, book stores, and independent sellers around town. The city is also full of farmers markets. For some of the most interesting shopping, check out the Pearl District, Pioneer Place, Union Way, and Downtown neighborhoods.

Columbia River Gorge offers some nice shopping areas. Art galleries feature local artwork and artisan crafts. There are photography shops and other venues that sell items highlighting the region's beauty.

Is Portland or Columbia River Gorge Better for Families?

Portland
Columbia River Gorge

Columbia River Gorge is a very popular place for its kid-friendly activities. Also, Portland is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its family-friendly activities.

Columbia River Gorge is a very family-friendly destination. Kids will love exploring the waterfalls and mountains as much as the adults do. There are kid-friendly hikes as well as bakeries and restaurants with many kid options.

You'll find plenty of kid-friendly things to do in Portland. This is an outdoor city by nature, so families will appreciate the many parks and outdoor recreational activities around town. It's easy to fill a couple of days exploring and having fun with the kids. Kid-friendly activities include the zoo, the aerial tram, and several great museums.


Is Portland or Columbia River Gorge Better for Couples?

Portland
Columbia River Gorge

Columbia River Gorge is a very popular place for romance. Also, Portland is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its romantic activities.

Columbia River Gorge makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. Couples will love the romantic hikes and waterfalls. There are also beautiful scenic viewpoints and wonderful restaurants.

Portland makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. The laid-back, alternative vibe is fun to explore as a couple. There are independent bookstores, nice parks, and plenty of outdoor activities to choose from. Couples who enjoy an eclectic city, breweries, and nature, will find a lot to do in town.

Is Portland or Columbia River Gorge Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Portland
Columbia River Gorge

Portland and Columbia River Gorge are both high quality destinations for backpackers.

Portland is very popular with the backpacker crowd. The town has drawn young explorers for years, and backpackers who like to step away from the mainstream will feel right at home here.

Columbia River Gorge is a great city to visit for backpackers. You'll find hostels and campgrounds in the area that are perfect for backpackers and budget travelers.

Is Portland or Columbia River Gorge Better for Students?

Portland
Columbia River Gorge

Portland is a nice place to visit for students. However, Columbia River Gorge is not popular with students.

Portland is a good city to visit for students. It's a young and relaxed city that attracts independent thinkers. There are many bookstores and breweries around town. The cost of living can be a bit high though.

Columbia River Gorge is not popular with students.


Is Portland or Columbia River Gorge Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Portland
Columbia River Gorge

Portland is a nice place to visit for its public transit. However, Columbia River Gorge is not a good region for times when you don't have a car.

Portland has a few public transit options. The town has a bus and light rail system as well the Aerial tram.

Public transit is mostly limited in Columbia River Gorge. There are some buses, but don't rely on them to efficiently explore.

Is Portland or Columbia River Gorge a more walkable city?

Portland
Columbia River Gorge

Portland is a well-known place for its walkability. However, Columbia River Gorge is not a good region for its high level of walkability.

Portland is very walkable. It is quite walkable, particularly in the tourist areas such as Downtown, Pearl, and Old Town Chinatown.

Columbia River Gorge is not a very walkable city. You really need a car to explore the area, but some visitors rely on a bike.

For even more information, also check out Is Portland Worth Visiting? and Is Columbia River Gorge Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Columbia River Gorge or Portland?

How long in Portland or Columbia River Gorge?

Visitors can find plenty of fun things to do in both Portland and Columbia River Gorge. In our opinion, Portland has more to see and do, so we recommend that you spend more time in Portland than Columbia River Gorge. However, 2-3 days is a good amount of time to spend in either destination.

Families should spend more time in Columbia River Gorge than Portland. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Columbia River Gorge, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

Couples should spend more time in Columbia River Gorge than Portland. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Columbia River Gorge that are perfect for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Portland than Columbia River Gorge if your budget allows for it. With a larger number of budget-friendly sights, good nightlife, and active things to do, anyone traveling on a budget would have a good time in Portland.


  • How many days in Portland or Columbia River Gorge? Ideal Length of Stay
    Portland 2-3 
    Columbia River Gorge 2-3

One day in Portland or Columbia River Gorge?

Many travelers enjoy the nightlife and live music when visiting the destination of Portland. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do. With so much to do, one day is probably not enough time to see everything.

The beautiful region of Columbia River Gorge offers nightlife and food. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. With so much to do, one day is probably not enough time to see everything. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.


A weekend in Portland or Columbia River Gorge?

Portland is a fun place to experience. If you have a weekend, this is a great place to go. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. A weekend should give you a good understanding of everything this city has to offer. This city offers a variety of activities to choose from.

Columbia River Gorge is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. If you have a weekend, this region makes for a great vacation. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. While some people choose to spend more or less time in Columbia River Gorge, a weekend is sufficent for most. Take your pick from the many activities offered here.

Five days in Portland or Columbia River Gorge?

Many people visit Portland for five days. You'll find shopping and nightlife around the city of Portland. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. Most people find that five days is more than enough time to see everything.

Columbia River Gorge is a popular choice for travelers. Five days is usually plenty of time to spend here with extra days to spare. With this much time, visitors often visit nearby destinations or take day trips. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

A week in Portland or Columbia River Gorge?

The scenic destination of Portland offers nightlife and live music. Hikers are also drawn to this area. It will give you the chance to have new experiences. One week is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare.

Columbia River Gorge is a great place to explore. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. One week is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days. This region offers something for everyone.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best G Adventures Tours to United States of America, The Best One-Week (7-Day) Tours from Las Vegas, The Best One-Week (7-Day) Tours from Anchorage, and The Best One-Week (7-Day) Tours from Los Angeles.


Which place is cheaper, Columbia River Gorge or Portland?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Portland is $180, while the average daily cost in Columbia River Gorge is $179. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Portland and Columbia River Gorge in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Portland $97
    Columbia River Gorge $89
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Portland $194
    Columbia River Gorge $178
Compare Hotels in Portland and Columbia River Gorge

Looking for a hotel in Portland or Columbia River Gorge? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Portland


Hotels in Columbia River Gorge


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Portland Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Portland $28
    Columbia River Gorge $78

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Portland

Also for Portland, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Waterfall Express -PDX: Waterfall Trolley Tickets + Transfer: $60
  • Portland downtown to Portland Airport (PDX) - Departure Private Transfer: $61
  • Portland Airport (PDX) to Portland downtown - Arrival Private Transfer: $61
  • Portland Airport (PDX) to Tigard hotel or address - Arrival Private Transfer: $75
  • Tigard hotel or address to Portland Airport (PDX) - Departure Private Transfer: $75
  • Private Transfer from Portland City Hotels to Astoria Cruise Port: $87
  • Private Transfer from Portland Airport (PDX) to Astoria Port: $87
  • Portland Airport (PDX) to Portland downtown - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $121
  • Portland International Airport - Private transfer from/to Oregon City: $127
  • Portland Airport (PDX) to Lake Oswego - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $141
  • Arrival Private Transfer Portland Airport PDX to Portland City: $148
  • Portland Airport (PDX) to Beaverton hotel - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $150

Is it cheaper to fly into Portland or Columbia River Gorge?

Prices for flights to both Columbia River Gorge and Portland change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Portland $43
    Columbia River Gorge $46
Typical Food Prices in Portland

For Portland, here are some examples of average food and meal prices for travelers:


  • Afternoon Drinks (for 2)
    $9.50

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Portland

For Portland, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • Portland Delicious Donut Adventure & Walking Food Tour: $70
  • Walking Pizza Tour: $75
  • Secret Food Tour with Local Guide: $93
  • Brunch on Mississippi Food Tour: $95
  • Downtown Food Tour: $102
  • The Vibrant Kerns Hood Food Tour: $105
  • The Bustling Buckman Hood Food Tour: $105
  • Portland Walking Food Tour With Secret Food Tours: $109
  • Mississippi Avenue Walking Food Tour: $110
  • All-Inclusive Downtown Portland Food Tour: $119
  • All-Inclusive Walking Food Tour: $119
  • 2.5-hour Dinner Cruise on Willamette River: $127

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Portland $24
    Columbia River Gorge $20

Tours and Activities in Portland

For Portland, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • Self Guided Solo "Weird and Wonderful Portland" Walking Tour in Old Town : $6.50
  • Smartphone Old Port Portland, ME Audio Walking Tour APP/GPS: $6.75
  • Portland, Maine: Walking Tour Audio Guide: $8.49
  • Downtown Portland In-App Audio Tour (ENG): $9.00
  • Scavenger Hunt Adventure Smartphone Audio Guide: $10
  • Downtown Scavenger Hunt & Self-Guided Walking Tour: $13
  • Waterfront Scavenger Hunt Self-Guided Tour: $13
  • Portland (Along the Waterfront) Scavenger Hunt & Self-Guided Tour: $13
  • Portland Exploration: Self-Guided Driving & Walking Tour: $14
  • Self-Guided Sightseeing Driving Audio Tour: $15
  • Portland Scavenger Hunt Adventure: $21
  • Smartphone-Guided Walking Tour of Downtown Portland: $25

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Portland $17
    Columbia River Gorge $12

Sample the Local Flavors in Portland

Some specific costs for nightlife related activities in Portland:

  • Portland Ghosts Boos and Booze Haunted Pub Crawl: $40
  • Haunted Underground Shanghai Tunnel Tour with Brewery Tastings: $40
  • Weird Bar Crawl with Fanatical Local: $59
  • Guided Bike Tour with Brewery Visits: $65
  • Portland, Maine: Old Port Brewery & Pub Walking Tour: $89
  • Portland, Maine: Local Brewery & Spirits Bus Tour: $99
  • Afternoon Tour in Columbia Gorge Waterfall with Free Wine Tasting: $111
  • Waterfalls, Mt Hood, and Wine Tour (Tasting Fees Included): $135
  • Silver Falls Hike and Wine Tour: $179
  • Willamette Valley Wine Tasting from Portland: $189
  • From Willamette Valley Full-Day Wine Tour: $210
  • Willamette Valley Wine Tour - Full Day Tour: $225


When comparing the travel costs between Portland and Columbia River Gorge, we can see that Portland is more expensive. However, the two cities are actually relatively comparable in price, as the difference is somewhat minimal. Generally, this means that you could travel with generally the same travel style and level of luxury in each place. Since both cities are in North America, it's no surprise that their costs are relatively close, as many destinations here have somewhat similar travel prices overall.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Portland Expensive? and Is Columbia River Gorge Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Portland or Columbia River Gorge?

Portland has a larger population, and is about 50 times larger than the population of Columbia River Gorge. When comparing the sizes of Portland and Columbia River Gorge, keep in mind that a larger population does not always imply the destination has more attractions or better activities. So, always research the type of place that you want to visit along with the activities and attractions that interest you.


When is the best time to visit Portland or Columbia River Gorge?

Both places have a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. As both cities are in the northern hemisphere, summer is in July and winter is in January.

Should I visit Portland or Columbia River Gorge in the Summer?

The summer brings many poeple to Portland as well as Columbia River Gorge. Most visitors come to Portland for the hiking, the small town charm, the music scene, and the family-friendly experiences during these months. Additionally, the summer months attract visitors to Columbia River Gorge because of the hiking and the family-friendly experiences.

Portland is around the same temperature as Columbia River Gorge in the summer. The daily temperature in Portland averages around 68°F (20°C) in July, and Columbia River Gorge fluctuates around 68°F (20°C).

The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Columbia River Gorge. People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Portland this time of the year. In the summer, Portland often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Columbia River Gorge. Portland gets 338 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Columbia River Gorge receives 338 hours of full sun.

Portland usually gets around the same amount of rain in July as Columbia River Gorge. Portland gets 0.7 inches (18 mm) of rain, while Columbia River Gorge receives 0.7 inches (18 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Portland 68°F (20°C) 
    Columbia River Gorge 68°F (20°C)

Should I visit Portland or Columbia River Gorge in the Autumn?

Both Columbia River Gorge and Portland are popular destinations to visit in the autumn with plenty of activities. The autumn months attract visitors to Portland because of the hiking trails, the shopping scene, the music scene, the small town atmosphere, and the natural beauty of the area. Also, the hiking trails, the shopping scene, and the natural beauty of the area are the main draw to Columbia River Gorge this time of year.

In the autumn, Portland is around the same temperature as Columbia River Gorge. Typically, the autumn temperatures in Portland in October average around 55°F (13°C), and Columbia River Gorge averages at about 55°F (13°C).

Portland usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Columbia River Gorge during autumn. Portland gets 155 hours of sunny skies, while Columbia River Gorge receives 155 hours of full sun in the autumn.

In October, Portland usually receives around the same amount of rain as Columbia River Gorge. Portland gets 2.6 inches (67 mm) of rain, while Columbia River Gorge receives 2.6 inches (67 mm) of rain each month for the autumn.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Portland 55°F (13°C) 
    Columbia River Gorge 55°F (13°C)

Should I visit Portland or Columbia River Gorge in the Winter?

Both Columbia River Gorge and Portland during the winter are popular places to visit. The museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine are the main draw to Portland this time of year. Also, many travelers come to Columbia River Gorge for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine.

Be prepared for some very cold days in Columbia River Gorge. It's quite cold in Portland in the winter. In January, Portland is generally around the same temperature as Columbia River Gorge. Daily temperatures in Portland average around 40°F (4°C), and Columbia River Gorge fluctuates around 40°F (4°C).

In the winter, Portland often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Columbia River Gorge. Portland gets 86 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Columbia River Gorge receives 86 hours of full sun.

Columbia River Gorge gets a good bit of rain this time of year. It rains a lot this time of the year in Portland. Portland usually gets around the same amount of rain in January as Columbia River Gorge. Portland gets 5.2 inches (132 mm) of rain, while Columbia River Gorge receives 5.2 inches (132 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Portland 40°F (4°C) 
    Columbia River Gorge 40°F (4°C)

Should I visit Portland or Columbia River Gorge in the Spring?

The spring attracts plenty of travelers to both Portland and Columbia River Gorge. Many travelers come to Portland for the small town charm and the natural beauty. Also, many visitors come to Columbia River Gorge in the spring for the natural beauty.

Portland is around the same temperature as Columbia River Gorge in the spring. The daily temperature in Portland averages around 51°F (11°C) in April, and Columbia River Gorge fluctuates around 51°F (11°C).

People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Columbia River Gorge this time of the year. In Portland, it's very sunny this time of the year. Portland usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Columbia River Gorge during spring. Portland gets 231 hours of sunny skies, while Columbia River Gorge receives 231 hours of full sun in the spring.

In April, Portland usually receives around the same amount of rain as Columbia River Gorge. Portland gets 2.4 inches (61 mm) of rain, while Columbia River Gorge receives 2.4 inches (61 mm) of rain each month for the spring.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Portland 51°F (11°C) 
    Columbia River Gorge 51°F (11°C)

Typical Weather for Columbia River Gorge and Portland

Portland Columbia River Gorge
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 40°F (4°C) 5.2 inches (132 mm) 40°F (4°C) 5.2 inches (132 mm)
Feb 44°F (7°C) 3.9 inches (98 mm) 44°F (7°C) 3.9 inches (98 mm)
Mar 47°F (9°C) 3.6 inches (92 mm) 47°F (9°C) 3.6 inches (92 mm)
Apr 51°F (11°C) 2.4 inches (61 mm) 51°F (11°C) 2.4 inches (61 mm)
May 57°F (14°C) 2 inches (51 mm) 57°F (14°C) 2 inches (51 mm)
Jun 64°F (18°C) 1.5 inches (39 mm) 64°F (18°C) 1.5 inches (39 mm)
Jul 68°F (20°C) 0.7 inches (18 mm) 68°F (20°C) 0.7 inches (18 mm)
Aug 69°F (20°C) 1 inches (25 mm) 69°F (20°C) 1 inches (25 mm)
Sep 63°F (17°C) 1.7 inches (44 mm) 63°F (17°C) 1.7 inches (44 mm)
Oct 55°F (13°C) 2.6 inches (67 mm) 55°F (13°C) 2.6 inches (67 mm)
Nov 46°F (8°C) 5.4 inches (136 mm) 46°F (8°C) 5.4 inches (136 mm)
Dec 40°F (5°C) 6.1 inches (156 mm) 40°F (5°C) 6.1 inches (156 mm)